Monday, April 25, 2011

James Durbin - American Idol

I loved James Durbin's preformance last week on American Idol! He's my current favorite!



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Water for Elephants

Kent and I go to a lot of movies. We hit our 24th movie of the year today and saw Water for Elephants. I've not really been posting much about the movies we see and thought I'd better get busy with a few recommendations! Check out the trailer below.

We usually grade movies A-F and I'd give this one a solid B. Think love story meets animal rights and it pretty much covers the storey.

"When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her. Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford."

I liked the storey telling aspect of the movie and the time period in which it was set. I also enjoyed the cast although I did not think there was much chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson.

I'd recommend you check it out!

Later -


New Design Just for Today!

Hope you get somthing extra special in your Easter Basket!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Annual Easter Weekend Drive

It actually got into the low 70's today in the Northwest! Beautiful day for our annual drive. It's been such a cool Spring that although Easter is late the wild flowers were not as abundant as I would have expected.

Thought I'd share a few pictures from today.

Have a great Easter tomorrow everyone!


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Friday, April 22, 2011

Just wondering.....

Do you celebrate Easter? Having grown up Catholic and attending parochial school Easter was a big deal. It all starts with Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. The big question as a kid was always - what is you giving up for Lent? As an adult I have to admit that I don’t keep track of the start of Lent but it never fails, sometime in mid February, I’ll be in a meeting and look up and see someone with a black cross smudged on their forehead – good Lord, wipe yourself clean going back to work. It’s hard for me to keep a straight face or take you serious with a big black cross smeared across your forehead! Then the Sunday before Easter you see people walking around with palms (saw it in Boston last Sunday). I remember as a kid my Mom would make crosses with the palms and hang them above the doors throughout the house. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Somehow Easter has been lifted to the same status as Christmas. I’ve had several inquiries asking what we were doing for Easter. It always catches me off guard. I still don’t understand retail coming to a halt – even Costco is closed! If it’s that important for crying out loud - I want a day off from work!

Kent and I have an annual Easter weekend tradition of taking a day trip to the Columbia Gorge. It started well over 10 years ago. Spring here in Seattle is often frustrating - cool and cloudy. As an example, the current forecast for Sunday is 55 and rain! That’s how our tradition began. When the weather is rainy in Seattle, eastern Washington or the Columbia Gorge can be much nicer. We also are not tied to taking the day trip on Easter Sunday. Typically we look at the forecast and let that be the deciding factor. This year for example the weather forecast for Saturday in the Gorge is 71 and sunny and rain and 61 on Sunday - so you guessed it, this year we will be heading out on Saturday. The other good thing about going on Saturday is that all the stores are not closed!

So as you many have guessed – Kent and I don’t celebrate Easter - at least not in the traditional sense. So regardless of your beliefs and how you choose to celebrate (or not) Easter – have a great weekend!

Later –


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pampered Ass

Score! First class upgrade nonstop from New York to Settle this morning! I am so glad I get to stretch my legs all the way home!

As Kent says "you do like to have your ass pampered!"

Looking forward to getting home to the pups!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Completed the Boston Marathon!

What an awesome, inspiring and completely unbelievable experience! I expected it to be fun but the experience by far exceeded my expectations! The crowds were incredible, especially around Wesley College , Boston University, and at the finish line.

My final time was 3:46:51. I was hoping for anything better than four hours so I was pleased.

The day started off quite cold but was perfect at race time with a nice tailwind!

I have to say it was my favorite marathon to date.

Thought I'd share a few pictures from the day.

This was taken at the Boston Commons where we caught the busses that took runners to the start of the race. Over 500 buses are used to transport runners!

Taken as I was entering runners village. Not me of course!

Several scenes at the village.

Heading to the start of the race.

Kent took this picture right after I was done and we connected up.

Close up of the medal. It's pretty cool!

Finally a picture after I'd had time to shower and head out for a nice dinner!

We are on a train headed back to NY as I write this and will head home tomorrow!

Thanks to all my family and friends for the many well wishes and comments these past few days! I really appreciate each one of you!

Later -


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Boston: The holy grail of marathons

Thanks to my friend Jennifer for sending me this article from the Tacoma News Tribune! Nice to see my name included!

It's the morning of the race and I am ready!

Published: 04/17/1112:05 am

Many distance runners describe the Boston Marathon as their sport’s Super Bowl, but in some ways that doesn’t seem fair.

The Boston Marathon has more than twice as much history (it turns 115 tomorrow), it has more than five times as many spectators (more than 500,000 spectators typically line the course) and when is the last time weekend warriors played in the Super Bowl?

“For a marathoner, the ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston,” said Tony Phillippi, a director of the Tacoma City Marathon who’ll run his 10th consecutive Boston Marathon on Monday.

“It took me until my ninth marathon and when I finally did, it was one of my most memorable moments,” he said of qualifying.

While Olympians, world champions and pro athletes battle to win the race, just getting into the race is a monumental achievement for most of the 27,000 participants.

You can get into the race by securing one of 2,000 fundraising spots and raising at least $1,500. But most have to get in by posting a fast qualifying time. That time is based on the runner’s age.

For Phillippi that meant several near-misses before finally getting in. In 2001, he needed to run a 3-hour, 15-minute, 59-second marathon (7:26 miles for 26.2 miles). He missed qualifying by 11 minutes at the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. Five weeks later he crossed the finish line at Olympia’s Capital City Marathon with what he thought was a good time, but he couldn’t bring himself to look at the clock.

He collected his finisher’s medal, talked to friends, returned his timing chip and went for a walk. Finally, standing alone in the park he mustered the courage to take a peek at his watch.

It read 3:15:39.

“I’d qualified by 20 seconds,” Phillippi said. “I let out a yelp and I was pretty happy for the rest of the day.”

He’s qualified for and run the Boston Marathon every year since.

Alex Bunn of Olympia is running his fourth Boston Marathon on Monday and also describes the race as the pinnacle of his running career.

“When you’ve qualified you are in an exclusive club,” Bunn said. “You don’t have to be an elite runner, but you have to work pretty hard. It’s something most people aren’t able to do.”

Once you get to Boston, that’s when the fun begins.

“It is the world’s biggest party,” Bunn said. “They go nuts. The whole town is on fire. It’s a kick.”

In nine previous Boston Marathons, Phillippi has seen almost everything. Many runners say the wildest part of the race is the section passing through Wellesley College, an all-women’s school.

“It’s this ear-piercing screaming,” Phillippi said. “They want to hug you, some women will ask you to slow down for a kiss. I’ve seen bare breasts. But if you run slower by the time you get there they’re all hoarse.”

The spectacle starts Monday morning at 7. Here’s a look at a few of the 92 South Sound runners who’ll be in the field.


Tony Phillippi

Tacoma, 49

Event manager

Qualified: 3:04:07

Monday will mark Phillippi’s 10th Boston Marathon and his 201st marathon, so if you think he’s a running maniac he won’t be offended.

In fact, he and two other running nuts found a club called Marathon Maniacs in 2003. All three of the founders (and many club members) will run Boston. For Steven Yee of Bonney Lake it will be his 261st marathon. It will be the 186th for Chris Warren of Renton.

Phillippi says it’s easy to get caught up in the pageantry at Boston and run yourself into the ground.

“It was intimidating my first time,” Phillippi said. “... The crowd makes the race. You have wall-to-wall spectators for almost all 26 miles. It’s easy to get sucked in and run too fast for the first half and then you’re really hurting for the second half. A lot of people make that mistake. You really have to be aware.”


Mark Thompson

JBLM, 46

Military doctor

Emelia Thompson

Boston University, 19

Qualified: American Medical Association fundraising.

Emelia has never run a marathon but as a sophomore political science student at Boston University, she is well aware of the race.

“It goes almost right through campus,” said Emelia, the youngest person with South Sound ties running in the event. “It is a really big deal for students. They wake up early to cheer. They line the streets and hang out the balconies.”

Emelia spends her summers living at Joint Base Lewis-McChord where her father, Mark, is stationed. Mark recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.

Mark is an experienced runner with 23 marathons. This will be his second Boston Marathon, both of which he qualified for through fundraising.

The Thompsons had their share of challenges training for Monday’s race.

A cold winter in Boston made the streets icy for Emelia.

“I haven’t fallen yet, but there was one time where I slid about 10 feet,” she said.

Mark had even bigger challenges. He battled dust, heat and traffic while training at Bagram Airfield and Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan. Then, in winter, he had to deal with cold and snow, too.

“But I was lucky that I was stationed at two FOBs where I could get in long runs,” said Thompson. “I had a friend who was stationed at a FOB so small he had to take 100 laps.”

The Thompsons plan to run together, at least for the first 25 miles, but, Emelia said, “I think the father-daughter rivalry will kick in for the final mile.”


Alex Bunn

Olympia, 39

Weatherly Inn administrator

Qualified: 2:44:24

Tammy Bunn

Olympia, 38


Qualified: Medical conference donation

Tammy Bunn says her husband isn’t above a little good-natured ribbing when it comes to qualifying for Monday’s marathon.

Alex had the fastest qualifying time of all 92 South Sound residents. (A fact he didn’t realize until he was interviewed for this story). Tammy is running in her first marathon and qualified by attending a sports medicine conference.

When she heard that many of the runners who’d posted qualifying times didn’t get into the race before it sold out, Tammy said she felt a little guilty.

“He says I cheated,” Tammy said with laugh.

Because of their busy work schedules and three children, the Bunns aren’t able to train together. In fact, they won’t even run the race together.

Because of Alex’s fast time, he will run in the fastest wave with the professional athletes who will be vying for the win. And because Tammy qualified as a fundraiser she will have to run in the slowest wave.

“It is pretty cool to be able to rub elbows with the pro athletes and to run with the superstars of American running,” said Alex, who is running the race for the fourth year in a row. “It’s just a really cool, big event.”

Bunn first tried to qualify 15 years ago while attending Westmont College in Santa Barbara. His dad promised to send him and his roommate to Boston if they both got in. His roommate qualified and Bunn was on pace with four miles to go.

“Then I just knew I was done,” Bunn said. He didn’t qualify, neither went to Boston and Bunn felt bad.

But when he finally qualified a decade later, it made the experience that much sweeter, he said. “I’d say that qualifying for the race is one of my more significant accomplishments.”


Dennis Smith

Olympia, 60

Orthopedic surgeon

Qualified: 3:39:13

Dennis Smith might be the oldest South Sound resident in Monday’s race, but he’s by no means the slowest.

His qualifying time was 21 minutes faster than the 4-hour cutoff for his age group and he was fast enough to qualify even if he was 10 years younger.

Smith, who turned 60 in July, has enjoyed running in the new age bracket.

“I’ve realized once you turn 60 you can start winning some events,” Smith said.

Smith won his age group at last year’s Bellingham Bay Marathon to get into Boston.

“I wanted to run Boston since I was in my 20s,” said Smith, who has run 11 marathons.

In his 20s he used to run during his lunch breaks with people training for the Boston Marathon.

“I thought it was so neat, but at the time I was younger and could not afford to spend the time to train,” Smith said.

As an orthopedic surgeon, Smith is well aware of the pounding his body takes while running. He reduces the impact through cross training, usually cycling and swimming.

The cross training led to his participation in the half Ironman triathlon. He also qualified for November’s New York City Marathon, another prestigious marathon.

But make no mistake about it, when he lists his athletic highlights all those other accomplishments will rank below Monday’s experience.

“If I could only run one more marathon for the rest of my life,” he said, “it would be Boston.”

Craig Hill’s fitness column runs on Sundays in The News Tribune and The Olympian. Please submit questions and comments via, or Get more fitness coverage at and


When the 115th Boston Marathon starts Monday morning at 7 on Universal Sports, the field of 27,000 will have 546 runners from Washington, including 92 from the South Sound.


Name / City / Age

William Ackley / Puyallup / 59

Kurtis Alfano / Buckley / 38

Mickey Allen / Tacoma / 55

John Becker / Puyallup / 49

William Betz /Tacoma / 49

Mark Bieber / Tacoma / 41

David Bonauto / Olympia / 45

Mark Boseley / Gig Harbor / 41

Jason Bothwell / Lacey / 37

Jim Brebner / Federal Way / 49

Jeffrey Bryan / Steilacoom / 44

Michael Bryant / Lacey / 37

Alexander Bunn / Olympia / 39

James Carpenter / University Place / 42

Zdenek Chmel / Tacoma / 48

Ben Clark / Enumclaw / 45

Richard Cockrell / Sumner / 46

Cordell Council / Gig Harbor / 46

Michael Davis / Lakewood / 43

Scott Gaines / Spanaway / 46

David Gardner / Tacoma / 44

Jeriah Griswold / Puyallup / 28

John Hines / Tacoma / 28

Pedro Infante / DuPont / 49

Richard Jones / Graham / 48

Nick Karim / Eatonville / 35

Thomas Keskey / Tacoma / 52

Keith Lerew / Fox Island / 53

Richard Ling / Steilacoom / 46

Michael Linscott / Steilacoom / 40

William Morgan / Kent / 26

Paul Morrison / Bonney Lake / 46

Jonathan Murphy / Tacoma / 27

Robert Ory / Federal Way / 52

John Pasola / Puyallup / 49

Brian Pendleton / Auburn / 56

Jeffrey Pfeiffer / Lacey / 42

Tony Phillippi / Tacoma / 49

Mark Piccone / DuPont / 41

Aaron Pitney / Tumwater / 41

Martin Ranney / Olympia / 32

Tony Seabolt / Gig Harbor / 44

Dennis Smith / Olympia / 60

David Spooner / Buckley / 42

Mark Stackle / Kent / 36

Peter Stackpole / Tacoma / 42

Scott Steele / Olympia / 38

Mark Thompson / Lewis-McChord / 46

Teru Toyokawa / Fircrest / 49

Bob Ultsch / Tacoma / 46

Jan Vleck / Olympia / 58

Jim Vollendroff / Auburn / 47

Cary Wilson / Federal Way / 50

John Withers / Tacoma / 31

Steven Yee / Bonney Lake / 51


Karen Anderson / Ravensdale / 41

Kristine Borden / Lake Tapps / 42

Kathryn Briggs / Puyallup / 35

Michelle Brown / Tacoma / 40

Tamara Bunn / Olympia / 38

Debra Campbell / Puyallup / 52

Kim Cooper / Kent / 49

Huong Delabar / Maple Valley / 59

Laurie Dent / Orting / 39

Alexis Erickson / Lacey / 33

Stephanie Esbenshade / Auburn/ 26

Melanie Faulkner / Bonney Lake / 31

Michelle Fetzer / Lewis-McChord / 43

Debbie Gardner / Tumwater / 33

Tanya Huson / Lacey / 23

Jody Irey / Kent / 40

Sabrina Kelly / Lacey / 46

Patti Krebsbach / Kent / 48

Shanon Larson / Olympia / 45

Julie Lee / Port Orchard / 45

Kelly Leonard / Aberdeen / 48

Elizabeth Lewis / Yelm / 27

Tammy Ludlow / Lake Tapps / 43

Crystal Morrison / Puyallup / 35

Marian Nash / Lake Tapps / 47

Tracy Nelson / Sumner / 45

Bridgette O'Brien / Tacoma / 38

Lindsay Rades / Tacoma / 31

Andrea Ray-Anderson / Auburn / 44

Melinda Scharf / Olympia / 44

Deidre Tarkany / Lake Tapps / 39

Janna Theriault / Bonney Lake / 42

Emelia Thompson / Lewis-McCord / 19

Maryanne Tomich / Fox Island / 45

Courtney Willson / Port Orchard / 36

Katherine Wilson / Eatonville / 22

Janet Yoest / Puyallup / 47

Source: Boston Athletic Association

Nine routes to Boston

Want to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon? You’ll have to be fast, so the flatter the course the better your chances. Here are some of the Northwest’s fastest courses. For a complete list of qualifying times, visit

Eugene Marathon: May 1. Track City USA’s marathon sent 23.4 percent of its runners to Boston last year.

Tacoma City Marathon: May 1. Tough, but organizers say “If you train right you can qualify on any course.”

Vancouver International Marathon: May 1. Nearly 500 participants qualified for Boston last year.

Capital City Marathon: May 15. Not flat, but 20.4 percent of runners qualified for Boston in 2007

Rock ‘N’ Roll Seattle Marathon: June 25. Most races in the Rock ’N’ Roll series yield good times.

Flat Marathon: July 4. In 2010, almost 25 percent qualified in this race near Portland.

Portland Marathon: Oct. 9. Almost 800 racers qualified on this relatively flat course in 2010.

Victoria Marathon: Oct. 9. One in five runners qualified for Boston last year.

Tri-Cities Marathon: Oct. 30. In 2010, 22.1 percent of participants qualified for Boston.

Source: The News Tribune and

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Headed to bed

Thanks for all the cheers and good luck wishes everyone! I am heading to bed getting ready for tomorrow. I will be able to get your cheers during the marathon via my Facebook post that says I'm headed out for my run which I'll post around 7:20 PST tomorrow morning so keep them coming! If you want to follow along and get text messages of my progress at 10k, 13.1miles, 30k and finish just text Runner to 345678 and enter my bib number 10197! Looks like the weather is going to be perfect!

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Hopkinton - Start of the Marathon

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Keys to mastering Boston are mental

It's 7:00 am on the morning before the marathon. It's finally really exciting and sinking in - I'm running the freaking Boston Marathon! This time tomorrow I'll be hopping a bus to the starting line only to have to wait in anticipation for my 10:20 start time.

Yesterday it was windy and cold (high of 43!)- the weather forecast seems to change each day but it seems to have settled in on upper 50's possible lite showers later in the day. Should be perfect running weather with one variable - wind. It's supposed to be somewhat windy - if it's a tail wind great, head wind crap. All I can do is wait and see.

Today is the running expo. I really enjoy this part of the marathon experience. Everyone swapping stories, wishing each other luck and of course picking up the race package and shopping! Then there is always the eye candy....

I found the attached article that I found interesting. I find myself reading a lot about the race.

All the training and waiting is almost over and the race is finally here!

By Joe Battaglia, Universal Sports

BOSTON -- On the eve of the 115th Boston Marathon, we wondered what some of the keys are to mastering the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

Who better to ask than a man who did just that, 1968 Boston Marathon champion and Runners World editor at-large Amby

"The first time I ran Boston, I ran a perfect race, I made no mistakes," Burfoot said. "I was an 18-year-old college freshman scared out of my brains from everything I had read. I had never run anything longer than 19 miles in my life, so I held back and held back and held back. I literally had the experience of asking somebody, ‘Where's Heartbreak Hill?' And they said, ‘Oh, you just passed it.' I was like, ‘That thing was a hill? That was nothing.' Every year since, it has been a hill."
There are a number of places where a runner can get hung up on this course, but Burfoot singled out five as being especially difficult.

The first three he lumped together as the downhills, the critical ones being the one right at the start, the one going down lower Newton Falls before going up over Route 128, and the one coming off of Heartbreak Hill.
"What makes the downhills difficult is just the pounding nature of the Boston course," Burfoot said. "If you start going too fast, you pound the quads and then your legs are just dead the last five miles. Only Boston has that element among the elite marathon courses."
Related to this article

When asked how runners should approach these sections, Burfoot said, "Very carefully."
"You need to know exactly what your pace is, know what your effort is, and realize that you need to keep your quads calm on the downhills," he added. "You don't race the downhills. You just sort of keep your legs intact on them."

Burfoot's fourth potential pitfall comes at the 13th mile when runners get to Wellesley, where the college girls turn out annually to offer their vocal support to the runners. He said pacing is important through the Scream Tunnel, where it's easy to get pumped up and surge ahead prematurely.

"It's the middle of the race," Burfoot said, "the crowd pumps you up, you're still feeling good and want to go, but it's way too soon."

According to Burfoot, the fifth mistake runners can make is not moderating effort over the final hills.

"In the old days the race used to be won and lost on the hills, and sometimes it still is," he explained. "But in a modern marathon, it seems to be about who's got something left in the last two or three miles because the finishes are all sprints now. So it's not about winning on the hills, it's about having that speed left."

Burfoot's best piece of advice is to maintain composure.
"I think people panic in various ways," he said. "Downhill into the final four miles of hills, I think it's a panic thing. It's thinking, ‘I have to go.' It's thinking, ‘I don't have to go.' People often overthink when they should just maintain the same solid effort, get through them, and live to fight another day.

"This is course demands more of a runner mentally. It's a world apart from the other races."

©2010 Universal Sports

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Boston Marathon - Mile by Mile

Found this online and thought I'd share it so you could get a taste of the course.

It’s a legendary course that stretches for 26.2 miles through beautiful suburban streets and right into the heart of downtown Boston. It’s on many a bucket list and its uphills and downhills have broken many a runner.

If you are one of the 25,000+ people registered to run this year’s Boston Marathon, keep reading! There are other course guides out there, but this one was written from years of experience, complete with visual cues, crowd cues, physical cues and strategy tips.

WBZ’s Peg Rusconi is our resident expert on the Boston Marathon course. Her resume of 12 marathons includes six Bostons. She lives here; she trains here; she knows this course. Whether it’s your first of fifteenth time running Boston, you’re sure to find Peg’s insight, which follows, valuable.

Boston Marathon Start Line in Hopkinton

Start Line to Mile 1

A possibly restless night and a long morning of waiting are finally in your rearview, as the starter’s pistol sounds and you’re bound for Boylston Street. Sort of. Honestly, the road between the Start line on the Hopkinton Green and the first mile marker might be lost in a haze of emotion, adrenalin, nerves – and bodies.

The surrounding pack of marathoners makes it hard to focus on much else, but this smothering situation will save you from yourself. It will keep you from barreling off on a jitter-fueled tear on the surprisingly steep drop that’s just past the start. You’ll hit a little uphill around the 1k mark, but this narrow stretch of rural road drops 130 feet – think a 13-story building – in that first mile.

Don’t waste energy trying to zigzag around people; you can show off in the miles ahead.

Expect very big crowds of spectators here.

Mile 1 to Mile 2

Everything about that hyper-frenzied first mile moderates as you travel the second mile toward Ashland. The downhill pitch flattens out a little, the spectator crowds thin a little, the field of runners spreads out a little. Now you can get your head centered and find your running rhythm.

One thing that might surprise you is the rolling hills early in the race. There’s little of real significance beyond that monster drop in the first mile, but if you’ve earned your marathon stripes running flat courses and arrive in Boston expecting the hills to start in Newton, you might be caught off guard. Newton is just where the REAL hills start.

If you’re measuring your progress by checking off the course’s 8 cities and towns, get ready to cross Hopkinton off your list.

Hello Ashland!

Ashland starts out like a party.

Mile 2 to Mile 3

If you ran the Boston Marathon between its inception in 1897 and 1923, Ashland is where you would have found the starting line.

Ashland, fittingly, starts out like a party. With any luck, your jitters are gone, you’ve found your rhythm and you’re enjoying the beginning of your long journey to Boston. On your left, the crowd at TJ’s Food and Spirits will keep the party rolling. Expect loud music and raucous support.

Again, some rolling hills through this mile on a stretch of two-lane blacktop with a guardrail and woods on much of one side, but a net descent.

The T station and Dunkin Donuts mark the third mile.

Mile 3 to Mile 4

A couple of iconic Massachusetts logos accompany the third mile marker – Dunkin Donuts, and the circled “T” that marks the Ashland Commuter Rail station.

In this mile, rural gives way to commercial. If you need an ATM, a fast food fix, a national chain drugstore, you’ll run right past it here.

Midway through this mile, you’ll pass a course landmark – the clock tower at the intersection of Union and Chestnut Streets. Appropriate eye candy, as Ashland was home to Henry E. Warren, who invented the electric clock.

Speaking of time, remember to rein in your pace here and stick to your plan. Don’t fool yourself by running on “feel.” Everyone feels great here because it’s early, and they’re running downhill.

At the 4.8 mile mark, you enter Framingham.

Mile 4 to Mile 5

This mile takes you out of Ashland and into Framingham. It’s the first mile that actually GAINS elevation – 25 feet over the course of the mile.

A couple tenths of a mile past the Dairy Queen on Route 135 there’s a decent half-mile climb that takes you past a building supply store and a big storage facility.

At the 4.8 mile mark, you’ll enter Framingham: your third town of 8.

Mile 5 to Mile 6

Over the course of this mile, you’ll hit about three little rolling hills, dropping more than you climb. The scenery begins to feel more industrial. By now the pack of runners has spread out significantly and you should be able to run comfortably.

You’ll find the 6-mile marker at Bridge Street.

At the 6.2 mile mark, you will pass the Framingham Train Station.

Mile 6 to Mile 7

You’ll wind downhill at the start of this mile.

A significant landmark at the 6.2 mile mark is the Framingham Train Station. A significant inconvenience in 1907 for all but the lead pack, when a train switched tracks, stopping runners in theirs.

You should be aware you’ll be crossing tracks here. Watch your step.

A restaurant on the right called the Chicken Bone marks the halfway point of this nice, flat mile.

As the course flattens out, resist the urge to run faster than you planned. Remember, the idea that you can “bank” minutes here for the second half of the race will bite you in the backside in the late miles. It’s what the experts say, and it’s what I’ve learned from experience.

Mile 7 takes you into Natick

Mile 7 to Mile 8

Get ready to say goodbye to Framingham. At about the 7.3 mile mark, you’ll enter Natick.

You’ll pass a colorfully-signed taco joint on the right called the Aztec. You’ll take on a little climb that passes a Wendy’s restaurant on your left. Then you’ll pass the West Natick train station and hit the 8-mile mark.

Around the 9-mile mark, you'll pass the Natick VFW

Mile 8 to Mile 9

This mile starts with a slight climb past some office buildings, a very large Planet Fitness gym and a car dealership. There’s another incline past Speen Street, but we’re talking minor uphills here. Overall it’s a pretty flat mile.

You’ll see a sign for the Natick VFW on your left, right around the 9-mile marker.

Mile 9 to Mile 10

This mile starts quietly. You’ve got train tracks on your left and Lake Cochichuate on your right, so not a whole lot of space for spectators.

It’s flat.

You’ll hit the 15k mark as you come to the end of the lake, and you’ll enter a historic district, which is a nice switch from the commercial and industrial landscapes of previous miles.

Think pretty, quaint Victorians as you climb at the half-mile mark toward the town center.

Prepare for big crowds in Natick Center.

Mile 10 to Mile 11

Time for some big crowds. This mile takes you through Natick Center, past the fire department and municipal buildings. You’ll pass the First Congregational Church with its tall steeple on your left.

There’s a big green with a gazebo on your right – lots of room for adoring fans and kids with outstretched hands for a high five.

You should feel fresh here. If you don’t, dial down the pace a notch.

Mile 11 to Mile 12

This mile starts uphill, and after the first quarter-mile, rolls downhill until almost the 12-mile mark.

In the last half, it’s pretty quiet, with thick woods on your right side. For a quick spell, you’re left to your thoughts. But soon, you won’t be able to hear yourself think.

You'll hear Wellesley College as you approach.
Mile 12 to Mile 13

As you come upon the main gate of Wellesley College, get ready for a sharp gain in decibels. You’ll hear it as you approach, and before you know it, you’re running through a screaming gauntlet of college co-eds.

The women of Wellesley are loud and proud… but here, they are mostly loud. Impossible to ignore. I remember American elite Ryan Hall playing to this crowd, putting a hand to his ear as he charged past. I actually think some men who are not trying to win the race slow down here. It’s a nice boost.

You’ll pass the 20k mark with a little drop, and then you’ll climb to Wellesley Center.

Downtown Wellesley marks the half-way point of the race.

Mile 13 to Mile 14

This is a fun mile through downtown Wellesley, which offers enthusiastic crowds, nice surroundings, and even nicer psychological ammo: the all-important halfway point. From here on in, you can just keep telling yourself that you’re closer to Boston than to Hopkinton.

But also keep in mind the old adage about a marathon having two halves – the first 20 miles and the last 6.2. Definitely true of this course.

So enjoy this fast, mostly flat mile. You’re closing in on the rough stuff.

Watch for Marathon Sports. It marks 14.7 miles.

Mile 14 to Mile 15

At 14 miles you’ll see tennis courts and athletic fields on your right. It’s flat and pretty. You’ll come to another quaint commercial district along the way. Look for Marathon Sports on the left, mile marker 14.7 if you’re wondering. You’ll cross Route 9.

At this point, you’re just a mile away from the start of the roller coaster section of the course – about 9 miles of sharp drops and steep climbs that demand more effort and focus. So this is a good place to gauge what you’ve got in the tank.

If you don’t feel fresh here, slow down and regroup.

Halfway through this mile the road plunges, barreling more than a hundred feet down into Newton Lower Falls.

Mile 15 to Mile 16

Mile 15 starts with a little climb that tops out quickly. You’re in a lovely residential area; you’ll see some nice stone buildings. It’s flat for about a quarter of a mile. And then… two words, people: IT’S ON!!

Halfway through this mile the road plunges, barreling more than a hundred feet down into Newton Lower Falls, where the mile ends.

Many insist this is where the real race begins. Racing or not, it’s where the storied course will begin to test you. You’re going to be climbing and dropping for about the next nine miles. None of these hills, up or down, is a killer on its own. It’s the cumulative effect and the fact that when the uphills start, your legs already have 16 miles on them. If you’re whipped at 16, you’ve got some rough miles ahead.

As you begin Mile 16, you'll pass Lower Falls Wine on your right.

Mile 16 to Mile 17

When that half-mile spill into Newton Lower Falls bottoms out, the road flattens for the blink of an eye. You’ll see the Entering Newton sign on your left (you’ll feel much different by the time you leave Newton, guaranteed) and the lovely Lower Falls Wine Company on your right. If you’re a wine lover, make a mental note to stop in sometime. They appreciate our sport here: one of the proprietors ran for Georgetown.

It’s entirely appropriate that almost as soon as you enter Newton, you start to climb. This is a big one, folks, a tough, grinding hill notable less for its steepness than its length – more than a half-mile. For first timers, it may also be a little unexpected, because talk of the famous Newton hills tends to focus on the series that begins a mile from here, at the firehouse.

Truth is, for my money (and that of many Boston vets and experts) THIS MIGHT BE THE TOUGHEST HILL ON THE COURSE. You’re still 10 miles out, in the middle third of the course. This climb takes you along a long not-at-all-scenic overpass that crosses I-95/Route 128 and you’re exposed to whatever weather elements the day hands you. Whatever it is, hot, windy, rainy – it’s magnified here. Crosswinds can be nasty.

You’ll pass Newton Wellesley Hospital. The road drops a little and flattens out as you approach the Woodland Golf Club and mile 17.

When you reach 'the turn by the firehouse', you're 17.3 miles in.

Mile 17 to Mile 18

Mile 17 starts out nice and flat. You’ll pass the Woodland Green Line T station on the right. It’s a nice residential stretch. At 17.3 miles, you’ll make one of the two famous turns on this course, known as “the turn by the firehouse.” The right turn onto Commonwealth Avenue, at the firehouse on your right, brings huge crowds, lots of noise and encouragement, and a lot of energy.

I always feel like I’ve arrived when I get here. A little past the firehouse is what people refer to as the Firehouse Hill; another big one. This one is much steeper than the 128 hill, but not nearly as long, not even a half-mile. There’s a refreshing little drop at the top, which brings you to the 18-mile mark.

Mile 18 to Mile 19

After the 18-mile mark, the road tilts up again, but in the scheme of things this is a speed bump. This mile is mostly flat or gently downhill. You’ll cross Chestnut Street about three tenths of a mile in. You should be able to cruise past the 30k mark and ride a short drop to the 19-mile mark.

The "Forever Young" statue is way over on your left, after you pass the 19-mile mark.

Mile 19 to Mile 20

At the 19-mile mark, you’ll see Newton City Hall. As you cross Walnut Street, way over on the left, far enough that you might not see it, there’s a fabulous tribute to the legendary Johnny Kelley: twice a winner, 61 times a finisher. The “Forever Young” statues depict a young Kelley running alongside an elder Kelley.

About a quarter-mile in, you’ll need to focus on the road ahead, which – surprise! – is rising to taunt you yet again.

I cannot tell you how many runners asked me, during the 2010 marathon, if this was Heartbreak Hill. Generally, it wasn’t a question but a statement: “So, this must be Heartbreak.”

It is not.

I’m not aware that this hill has a nickname, although I’ve heard people call it “the second hill” (after the firehouse). I think of it mostly as a nuisance. It’s sort of a two stager. The first part is steep but short – maybe half the length of the firehouse hill. Then it flattens and climbs again, but briefly. You notice it mostly because you have almost 20 miles on your body.

You’ll cross Centre Street at the .9 mark. There’s a ski shop on the corner, and right now, you’re participating in what feels like a mountain sport.

Heartbreak Hill is a half-mile uphill, after you've already run 20 miles.

Mile 20 to Mile 21

As you cross the 20-mile mark, you can see the base of Heartbreak Hill where the road winds ahead. Get ready. You’ll run past some little shops and then, there’s no mistaking it. Heartbreak is a steep half-mile uphill. It will likely not be the longest or the steepest hill you’ll ever run but, again, at this point, you’re probably not running on fresh legs.

What I try to do here is to not let myself get out of breath, usually by shortening my strides. I also never look at the top, just at the road immediately ahead.

I love Heartbreak. The crowds are great, and on a long, meandering course, it represents a short (relatively) and attainable goal. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment as you reach the top, some much needed psychological firepower.

So here’s the thing. You’ll crest Hearbreak, and see another hill. I call this the “you must be kidding me hill.”

Don’t worry about it. It’s minor.

As you hit Boston College, prepare to head downhill.

Mile 21 to Mile 22

As you close out Mile 21, you enter Boston College territory. The road plummets here, in steep fashion, for a full half-mile. This might sound like a nice break from the Newton ups, but farther down the road, a lot of runners realize the upcoming series of downhill stretches just punishes tired legs. At this phase, though, it’s enjoyable.

Expect a lot of noise from the screaming Eagles of BC. They were so loud in 2010 that I couldn’t hear the Green Line trains that run along the left side of the road. Seriously.

There’s a little climb of about a tenth, then you’ll roll downhill again past a cemetery.

Watch your step on the Green Line tracks in Cleveland Circle.

Mile 22 to Mile 23

I call this the Meat Grinder Mile, because it’s an apt description of its effect on spent quads. The road starts flat, then bottoms out for more than a half-mile, steep first, then more gradually. Somewhere in there, you may reach an epiphany about downhill running not being all it’s cracked up to be. The pounding is just punishing, and a lot of quads lock up here. Moving forward just seems harder than it was a mile ago.

As you spill into Cleveland Circle, beware of the Green Line trolley tracks. You’ll cross a few sets, so watch your step. Wheelchair athletes need to pay particular attention here.

This mile concludes with a gradual quarter-mile climb. You’ll enter Brookline.

The well-known Tudor building marks Coolidge Corner.

Mile 23 to Mile 24

At the 23-mile mark, you’ll find yourself looking downhill again. You’ll descend along Beacon Street through Brookline’s Washington Square neighborhood, past some restaurants and shops. About a quarter-mile in, the road spikes upward, but this is a short uphill, and about the only climb in a mostly downhill mile. And it’s noticeably downhill.

As you approach Coolidge Corner, and the well-known Tudor-style building on the left, you’ll catch your first glimpse of Boston’s iconic Citgo sign in the distance. It’s a very quick glimpse; from here the sign is about a mile and a half away.

The Citgo Sign hill stands between you and the 25-mile mark.

Mile 24 to Mile 25

You’ll reach the 24-mile mark just past Coolidge Corner, near the intersection of Beacon and Charles Streets in Brookline. You’re nearing the end of a long (more than a half-mile) downhill, passing shops and restaurants and a sea of four story brick and stone condo buildings. The road undulates slightly as the mile progresses, but in the wake of that downhill, even the flat can feel like running in wet cement.

Just know you’re getting closer with every step.

You’ll cross Park Drive and enter Boston at the 40k (24.8 mile) mark.

At this point, the glorious Citgo sign is right in front of you. And it’s at the top of a hill. Seriously.

This hill takes you along the overpass atop the Massachusetts Turnpike. It’s short, but just long enough and just steep enough to seem tough as you approach the 25-mile mark. Several of my runner friends dread this hill more than any other on the course.

After Fenway, you'll make your way past the brownstones in the Back Bay.

Mile 25 to Mile 26

The final full mile starts with a little drop. You’ll see the green walls and light stanchions of Fenway Park on your right. Full disclosure: I’m actually getting chills as I write this, thinking about that sight and what it feels like to be there, closing in on the finish.

You’ll enter Kenmore Square. Big crowds. The Hotel Commonwealth is on your right, a big bus shelter on your left, and somewhere here, you’ll notice “1 mile to go” painted on the pavement. Again, more chills here.

As you exit the square, you’ll run under some overpasses and then drop down underneath Mass Ave, so a quick down-in and up-out before you make this course’s other iconic turn, “the turn on Hereford.” This is a right turn, and it’s slightly uphill. It’s another scream tunnel. You’ll pass Newbury Street and then turn left onto Boylston Street.

What you see up ahead is no mirage. It’s the finish line.

The Boston Marathon Finish Line!

Mile 26 to Mile 26.2

With the finish line ahead, you might not even notice the 26-mile mark. Between here and the finish, you’ll pass the Prudential Center, Gloucester, Fairfield and Exeter Streets. It’s pancake flat. You’ll cross the finish line before you get to Dartmouth Street, next to the Boston Public Library, joining the space blanketed warriors in Copley Square.

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Fruita Guacamole from Toloache

I keep referencing our favorite restaurant. We discovered it in 2009 when we were in town for the New York Marathon. We have been back several times since! I highly recommend it - especially as a great place to pick up a meal before or after a play since it's right in the heart of the Theatre District.

Not only do they make great margaritas - cheers!

They make the best guacamole made with fruit. I found the recipe online and can't wait to make it when we get home. The recipe below is close to what I remember from the first time we ever tried it. Last nights had a slightly different combination of fruit including - pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top, mango, apple, peach and thai basil. I think they may have also used habanero peppers as opposed to jalapeños. So as you can see many combinations of fruit will work. The fruit is used somewhat sparely and is chopped up pretty fine.

Guacamole Recipe from Toloache Restaurant NYC

Chef Julian Medina of Toloache Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan shares how to make fruita guacamole.

251 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 581-1818

Serves 4

2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoons seeded and chopped jalapeños
2 ripe Hass avocados (preferably from Mexico), halved with pits removed
2 tablespoons strawberries, preferably earliglow
2 tablespoons pineapple
1 bag tortilla chips

Marinate the onions in lime juice with the jalapeños, and salt before mixing with the other ingredients. Scoop the flesh of the avocados out of the rind and put into a bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, making sure to leave plenty of chunks. Mix in the onions, jalapeños, strawberries, and pineapple. Serve with corn tortillas chips.

Final Training Run in Central Park

Well I completed my final training run this morning in preparation for Boston on Monday. I love running in New York! It always takes me longer than expected because I stop and take pictures along the way.

We stayed at a Marriott near the theater district near Bryant Park. It was nice especially since Times Square, the theater, and our favorite restaurant were all within a few short blocks and Central Park was a short run away!

Looking forward to Mondays Marathon. I will be happy just to complete and be able to say I participated in the Boston Marathon (bucket list item) but I'd be even happier with a time under 4 hours.

Have a good one -


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